Development lobby group Urban Taskforce has backed the idea of rolling out a faster approval process for medium density housing projects in New South Wales.

According to the group, NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes is considering allowing medium density projects to be covered by the same legislation that allows detached houses to be approved in as little as 10 days.

“The current Housing Code provides for 10 day approvals for two storey detached houses and this can easily be extended to town houses and terrace houses,” Urban Taskforce chief executive officer Chris Johnson said.

“We believe that mid-rise apartments should also be considered for complying development,” Johnson said.

Johnson said his group believes medium density housing has become standard across the state, and by allowing faster approval the government will encourage developers to submit projects that meet planning controls.

“The terrace house, dual occupancies and town houses have become standard building types across NSW and should therefore get faster approvals as complying development as proposed by the Government,” he said.

“This will encourage developers to fit within the proposed rules as a quick approval will reduce costs.”

In particular, Urban Taskforce believes the change would be a benefit to Sydney as its population density increases.

“As Sydney’s population inevitably increases there will need to be more urban consolidation in existing areas,” Johnson said.

“To replace detached houses with terrace houses is unlikely to be economically feasible in many suburbs but to replace two-storey with six-storey is likely to be feasible and should be encouraged as the next step after the Government’s inclusion of low rise medium density housing as complying development.”

The change would also help the state achieve the intent of its recently overhauled strata laws.

“Mid-rise apartments are the most likely building type to replace 50 year old walk up flats now that the NSW Government has changed the rules to allow 75% of owners to agree to demolition of an existing strata building.

“To realise the intent of the Strata Act changes the planning system needs to provide for increased floor space and planning rules, such as a complying code for six-storey apartment buildings, that encourage change and produce good quality, well-designed buildings.”